Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
In the stage known as mashing, the coarsely ground malt is soaked in water at between 130 and 160°F/54–70°C for a couple of hours. Typical proportions are around eight parts water per one part malt. Mashing is completed by running the wort off the solid remains of the malt, which are then rinsed with hot water—“sparged”—to remove some remaining extractable materials before being discarded.
Mashing accomplishes several purposes. Above all, it gelates the starch granules and allows the barley’s enzymes to break down long starch molecules into shorter sugar chains and small fermentable sugars, and proteins into foam-stabilizing amino-acid chains and fermentable single amino acids. And it extracts all these substances, along with color and flavor substances, from the grain particles and into the water.